Patsy Cline: Why She Created a Secret Identity as a Male Singer

by Clayton Edwards

Patsy Cline is one of the biggest names in classic country music. She passed away after only releasing three full-length albums. However, her music and legacy live on to this day. Her influence can still be seen all over country music. Cline’s big breakthrough came when she landed “Walkin’ After Midnight” at number two on the country chart. From there, she was on her way to becoming a legend.

Patsy Cline didn’t like “Walkin’ After Midnight,” but country fans couldn’t get enough of it. Likewise, it almost made the top-10 on the pop charts. A male singer pressed a cover of the song almost immediately after it climbed the charts.

Calvin Coolidge, the country singer not the president, recorded a version of “Walkin’ After Midnight.” That version was never sold commercially. However, Bill McCall, the president of 4-Star Music Sales, had 250 copies of the single pressed to send to radio stations around the region according to UDiscovermusic. There was something fishy about this cover version, though.

It turns out that Calvin Coolidge was actually Patsy Cline. Decca held the rights to Cline’s release of the single. However, 4-Star Music Sales had the master recording. So, McCall slowed the tape down to 33 RPM and pressed it to a single. The smaller discs played at 45 RPM. This difference in speed caused Cline’s already deep voice to sound like a male singer on the Calvin Coolidge record. If the single was sped up to 60 RPM, it would sound like Patsy Cline again.

The Rarest of Patsy Cline’s Releases

The single never hit record store shelves. As a result, it is the rarest release in Patsy Cline’s catalog. 4-Star Music Sales pressed very few copies. So, it is almost impossible to find today. However, there is a copy of the infamous single at the Patsy Cline Museum in Nashville.

The Calvin Coolidge cover of “Walkin’ After Midnight” was just a cash grab by Bill McCall. The scheme may have been legal but it was at least unethical. However, several artists have covered the song over the years. Male and female performers from a number of genres have put their own spin on the Patsy Cline classic.

No one will ever do it like Patsy Cline. She brought some ethereal quality to the song that cannot be matched by another singer. Many have tried. A few have even come close. The indie rock band Girl In a Coma did a great doo-wop flavored version of the song that comes close to the original.

Likewise, the country/folk group Cowboy Junkies did an absolutely haunting version of the classic song.

Unfortunately the Calvin Coolidge version of “Walkin’ After Midnight” is nonexistent online.